Croydon is a suburb in the Inner West of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located 9 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district. Croydon is split between the two local government areas of Burwood Council and the Inner West Council.
The suburb is nestled between the commercial centres of Ashfield and Burwood. It is bounded by Parramatta Road to the north, Iron Cove Creek to the east, Arthur Street to the south and a number of different streets to the west. To the north are Kings and Canada Bays on the closest reach of the Parramatta River, to the northwest is Concord Hospital and the Olympic Games complex at Homebush Bay. To the south is Canterbury Racecourse. The suburb shares its name with Croydon, a large district and borough in the south of London in the United Kingdom. (wikipedia)
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area now known as Croydon was part of the land which the Wangal tribe hunted and lived having migrated down from northern Australia and before that Asia. Their focus of tribal land was believed to be centred on Concord and stretched east to the swampland of Long Cove Creek. The land was heavily wooded at the time with tall eucalypts, blackbutts and turpentines covering the higher ground and mangroves, swamp oaks and swamp mahoganies in the lower swampy ground of Iron Cove Creek. The diet of the Wangal was primarily fish so they spent most of their time living near the shores of the Parramatta River and fishing in canoes. The land away from the river shores provided fruits, berries and edible plants as well as possums and kangaroos, which were killed both for food and their skins.
The arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and the start of modern Australia had, as one could expect, an influence on the people living in the area. One of their leaders, Bennelong, befriended the first governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip, and was taken by him to England.
After establishing the colony at Sydney Cove in early 1788, a second settlement was established at Rose Hill (now called Parramatta) later that same year to establish farms to feed the people. Within a year or so, a rough land route had been established between the two settlements, traversing through the territory of the Cadigal, Wangal and Burramattagal people. This rough track later became the main artery of the expanding Greater Sydney and, as the northern boundary of what is now Croydon, influenced modern settlement in the area.
Governor Phillip showed great reluctance to grant large amounts of land to his colonists, restricting land grants to the towns and people actively planning to farm the land. After his return to England in 1792, acting governor Major Francis Grose and his successor Captain William Paterson pursued the opposite policy granting large swathes of land to their friends prior to the arrival of the second official governor John Hunter in 1795.
The first land grant in the Croydon area was to Captain John Townson in April 1793 who received 100 acres (0.4 km2) on Parramatta Road stretching west from Iron Cove Creek and south to what is now Queen Street. Further grants were made in 1794 to: Private J Eades (25 acres on Parramatta Road to the west of Townson’s holding); James Brackenrig (30 acres on the other side of Eades’s land); Augustus Alt, the first surveyor-general of NSW, (100 acres stretching south from Townson’s land to roughly what is now Thomas Street); and Sarah Nelson (15 acres west of the southern corner of Alt’s land in the area now known as Malvern Hill). Alt was the first to take up residence on his land, naming it ‘Hermitage Farm’. However, his house was burnt down by a group of indigenous people (possibly led by Pemulwuy) in 1797 and he didn’t return to Croydon, establishing himself in neighbouring Ashfield, and selling his property to John Palmer.
By 1820 a large part of the area had been subsumed by Joseph Underwood’s large ‘Ashfield Park Estate’. This property remained largely intact for more than 40 years, until it was subdivided into large blocks after the death of Elizabeth Underwood in 1858. By this time its proximity to the railway made it a desirable area (the station was originally called Fivedock). One of these subdivisions was the ‘Highbury Estate’, on part of which Anthony Hordern, son of the founder of the great retail firm, Anthony Hordern & Sons, eventually built his house ‘Shubra Hall’, just beyond the west border of Ashfield. It later became part of the Presbyterian Ladies’ College, the current boundaries of which give an idea of the extent of the Hordern property. The College, including Shubra Hall, the main school building and the Meta Street entrance gates, is now listed on the Register of the National Estate.
From around 1800 to 1860, development in the area was slow with the forests gradually being cleared for orchards and grazing land. The area was a haunt of bushrangers in the 1820s with two major thoroughfares, Parramatta Road to the north and Liverpool Road to the south providing regular opportunities for holdups.
In 1855, the Sydney-Parramatta railway was built through the area which led to a housing boom around the stations at Ashfield and Burwood. This in turn led to local governments forming in the two areas with the land divided roughly equidistant between the two centres. In 1874 a new station was built on the boundary of the two areas and was named Five Dock after another settlement to the north. Because Five Dock was actually a long way north some confusion ensued and Ashfield Council renamed the station in 1876 to Croydon after the suburb in London. The suburb remains divided between the two neighbouring councils to this day. (wikipedia)
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